Government-friendly daily Magyar Hírlap featured a Q&A on Monday with László Kövér, in which the Speaker of Hungarian Parliament lived up to his reputation as an energetic and entertaining interview subject. Amid zingers on recent hot-button topics like the recent Elie Wiesel kerfuffle (his advice: keep cool) and rumors that a leading party for ethnic Hungarians in Romania would set up shop here in Hungary (idiotic) was an interesting return to a theme from earlier this year: The allegations that certain players on the international scene had attempted a “coup” against the current Hungarian government.
Saying that the putsch attempt “had no real chances” of working, Kövér nevertheless indicated he thought there was in fact a plot, pointing out that an advisor to the US government had suggested that if Orbán could not be forced out by democratic means, some other means would need to be found.
There are two interesting things about Kövér’s coup-talk.
One is that quickly after it was widely reported that Orbán said he was the target of a plot, then-Fidesz parliamentary caucus head (and now Orbán chief-of-staff) János Lázár went on record to deny Orbán had ever said it, either because he didn’t say it, or because he said it and Lázár and others realized how paranoid it sounded.
The second interesting thing is that Kövér reopened the whole coup business just as the government is about to finally start its long-delayed bailout talks with the IMF, EU and European Central Bank, which are likely to involve some hard bargaining by the “Troika” on some issues that the government is now insisting it will not budge on. Take, for example, what Orbán said yesterday about the just-passed tax on financial transactions:
Hungary is governed by Hungarians, and if the Hungarian parliament has decided on introducing a tax on financial transactions, has determined who this will apply to, then that’s the way it will be. No one can veto the Hungarian parliament’s decision.
So while the fearless Kövér may be the only top member of Fidesz to openly use the “C word” for the time being, I suspect that over the coming months we’ll be hearing as much talk about coups d’état here in Hungary as in the average Latin American banana republic back in the 1980s. Unfortunately, the economic situation is likely to feel like it, too.